Cornershop Book Review #4: Checkout – A Life on the Tills

In which we look at the Corner Shop in ‘literature’…
In the interests of academic research and a more interesting blogsite, we have recently taken to reading the odd book whilst propping up the counter. Not any old pulp fiction, we’ll have you know: there are strict criteria. The book must be about shop life. We wanted to know how the corner shopkeeper is being portrayed out there, and set the record straight if necessary. This exercise is also, of course, a very good way of lending gravitas to the shopkeeper’s image….
Synopsis: Girl works in supermarket. Blogs about it. Blog gets popular, becomes a book. Girl leaves supermarket. Er, and that’s it. There ain’t a whole lot of plot to this book, it has to be said. The French author, Anna Sam (who actually graduated in French literature before working at LeClerc in Rennes) has created more of a treatise on how not to shop. All the irritating little things that shoppers do at the checkouts, from refusing to stop rabbiting on their mobiles to turning up with a full trolley one minute before closing time – they’re all in here. The book stands out as a detailed chronicle of the minutiae of checkout life.
Real Shop Cred: 10/10. Every supermarket shopping stereotype is in here. It is quite likely that you are guilty of some of the trolley trespasses and conveyor belt contrariness contained therein. It should be made compulsory reading not, as Sam suggests, for those considering a career on the tills, but rather for everyone else. We could all learn a little (and some of us quite a lot) about how to make the shopping experience better. Including that of the checkout girl. Because they’re human too you know.
Of course, very little of it actually applies to cornershopping, which is a much more gentle pursuit…
Buy, borrow or avoid: Borrow. (Although at £5 or so it is not going to break the banque.) It’s not a very long book, you see – you can read it in an hour or so. The writing style takes a little getting used to: it is written in the second person, which may work in the original French form, but is real odd in English. The best way to read it would surely be if it was printed on supermarket receipts, carrier bags, or the walls of in-store cafes: that way people might actually take its message to heart and be a bit nicer to the beepeuses.

Any more recommendations for shop books to read? Please leave your suggestions in the comments…

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